Xbox Announces Big Accessibility Improvements For Global Accessibility Awareness Day

A program will let players with disabilities give feedback directly to Xbox engineers and game developers.

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Today, May 20, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, an event meant to bring awareness to the digital accessibility struggles many still face with websites and technology. Microsoft has been making big strides to address these issues with things like the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and a new series of initiatives are designed to make the Xbox ecosystem even more welcoming.

A stream began on 11:30 AM PT / 2:30 PM ET, with gaming accessibility program manager and gaming and disability community lead Tara Voelker joining Steve Saylor--a blind gamer and streamer--to discuss accessibility in gaming. It's happening on the Xbox Twitch page, which we've embedded here, and there will be a Q&A section to ask any questions you may have.

In a blog post on Xbox Wire, director of Xbox Accessibility Anita Mortaloni announced a new program called the Xbox Accessibility Insider League, or XAIL. This program is available to anyone with a disability and allows them to give accessibility feedback directly to both the Xbox engineering team as well as game developers. The Xbox customer support page has been refreshed, as well, making it easier to find the disability answer desk than before.

Other initiatives include a gaming and disability player experience guide, which gives game developers tools and areas to consider while designing their games. Accessibility guidelines have been updated, as well, with more guidance on things like screen narration, difficulty, UI, and captions. In the future, there will also be party chat options for both speech-to-text conversion as well as text-to-speech.

Some of Microsoft's first-party games are getting more accessibility features, too. Gears 5's Navigation Ping will let players with little or no vision make their way through areas using audio queues, and there are also options to disable camera shake or enable target lock. For Minecraft, the Achievement screen has been redesigned to make it easier to navigate and read--or have narrated--as well as offering more granular audio control. Ore patterns have also been adjusted to make them more distinct, which is helpful for players who have trouble differentiating colors.

To learn more about Global Accessibility Awareness Day, check out the official website. It offers resources for attending or hosting events as well as ways you can participate in projects.

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